“Hey Mick, wanna go for a ride?”
“He’s asleep; he won’t even know we’re gone.”
“Dunno, Beany, we’ll get into shit!”
Hands-on hips, Beany shot his housemate optic daggers. “You chicken shit?”
“Frickin’ A, you are! Probably need Dave’s permission to wipe your arse!”
“Stuff off, Mick— you can’t even drive.”
“Bloody-well can. Used to drive tractors around my dad’s farm.”
“Your dad didn’t even have a farm, ya-dick.”
“Well, at least I had a dad—chicken shit!”
Mick stopped halfway along the hall, pointed to Gav’s room.
“If we take the noo noo van, and Dave’s asleep, who’s going to look after Gav?”
“You’re kidding, right? Put on a Superman DVD, and Clark Kent won’t even know we’ve gone. That autistic freak never leaves his room anyway. He’s just a bloody retard.
Mick hesitated. “What happens if Dave wakes up?”
“It won’t happen.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, put it this way, you and Gav weren’t the only ones given meds this morning!”
“Shit Beany, did you drug him?”
Beany smiled. “Slipped some quetiapine into his coffee, took ‘em from Gav’s missing tab. He’ll be lucky to wake up before Christmas, let alone change-over. Dumb fuck! I wanted to get back at him for drinking all Gav’s coke. Gav was right shitty about it.”
“Holy shit, mate! You’re a legend.”
Keys jangling in his hands, Beany smiled. “Let’s go then. Let’s go have some fun!”
“Hang on, I’ll tell Gav we’re going, just in case he gets frightened.”
“Hey, Gav, Beany and I are going into town. I’ll put on a Superman DVD for you. Superman IV, you like that one, āe. Okay, see you later.”
Gav stared at his TV screen. Then suddenly, in his usual echolalic monotone, said, “It’s the same as it’s always been, Luther. On the brink. With good fighting evil. See you in twenty.”
The van roared out of the long potholed driveway, turning right toward town after reaching the main road.
“Where we going?” Mick asked.
“Dunno, but let’s get a slab of beer and some ciggies. I found the house money.”
“You mean, stole it!”
Beany focused on the road, smiled. “Hey Mick, turn up the volume. I like this; crank it up real loud. Man, Ariana Grande is so hot.”
He started singing, “Break free, this is the part . . . break free.”
Five minutes later, the van pulled into the Liquor Land car park.
“Put the slab on the middle seat, mate. Crack a couple open. Did you get the smokes?”
“Well, let’s go party.”
They drove to the city limits where there was a lay-by they could park up. A hostelry of hitchhikers were standing thumbs up, packs down by the lay-by’s berm.
“Shall we offer them a lift, Mick? Take ‘em for a spin. Three of them are girls—pretty ones, too. You never know; we might get lucky!”
“Why not, if we’re gonna get in shit—it may as well be big shit!”
The van skidded and fishtailed on the loose gravel, coming to a stop a few metres beyond the hopeful travellers.
“Where you going?” Mick yelled through the passenger window.
“Picton,” a blond girl with a funny accent replied, “Can you give us a lift?”
Beany yelled from the driver’s seat, “Yeah, you and your mates jump in; we’re going there too.”
“WTF Beany, that means we have to drive past our place!”
“You worry too much. Did you take your anxiety meds this morning?”
The van careened back onto the highway.
“You guys in the back wanna beer?” Mick asked. “We got plenty.”
The girls hesitated, the guy reaching out greedily, grabbing a beer, quickly knocking its top off.
The girls then followed.
“Danke,” he said. “It is very humid today. Is that how you say it?”
“Yep, mate, it’s a corker,” Beany yelled back, staring into the cab mirror.
“Where are you guys from?” the girl with brown hair and freckles asked.
“Let me do the talking, Mick,” Beany whispered.
“My name’s Dave, and this is Jason. We work on a mussel farm in the sounds. We’ve just been in Nelson for the day. The big smoke!”
“You want a smoke . . . Beany?” Mick interrupted, eyes and brow creased.
“It must be good to work on a Mussel Farm,” the girl replied. “I have never seen one; how do they farm mussels?”
“Well, we don’t actually do any of the farming; we’re more on the milking si—”
“Oh my God,” interrupted Mick. “Look, it’s Superman! What the fuck is he doing?”
Beany diverted his eyes from the cute brunette back to the road. On the other side of the highway, he saw Gav running toward them, sprinting into town. Bare feet, head back, eyes focused, he was a man on a mission.
Mick burst into laughter. “Look at the dumb fuck, he’s got bare feet, cut up bad too, got blood all over him. He must have tripped, but where the fuck is he going?”
“He’s probably running into town to tell Police Chief Parker something. Fuckin dickhead!”
Shall we stop, ask if he’s okay?”
“Hell no, he’ll blow our cool.”
“Do you know him?” the blonde with the braids asked.
“Yeah, sort of, but he’s a bit of a dick.”
Beany tooted and waved, then swerved the van toward him before quickly passing by. Gav seemingly never hearing or seeing them.
In the rear-view mirror, Mick noticed the passengers huddling closer, whispering. After a few minutes, the freckled girl spoke again.
“We have changed our minds; can you please stop. We do not want to get a ride with you, sorry.”
“That’s okay; we were going to stop in a minute anyway.”
Mick stared at Beany, gave him another confused look.
“May as well, Mick, with Superman on the loose; our cover will get blown pretty quickly. Let’s go home. Hide the piss for some other time. We can drop the hitchhikers near our gate.”
“There you are,” Beany said with a smile. “Sorry, you didn’t like the ride.”
Without saying a word, the passengers disembarked rapidly.
“Snobby bastards,” Mick called from the window as the van sped off again.
“Let’s hide the beer down by the culvert; it’s not going to be long before Superman gets hauled back.”
“What will we do when he does?” Mick asked.
“Nothing, we’ve been here all day, alright? I’ve put the keys back. No one can prove we’ve even left. Deny, deny, deny, at all costs. Got it?”
Two hours later, a police car pulled into the driveway, followed by an Agency company car.
“It’s Tracey bringing Gav back,” Mick said.
“But why the hell did she bring cops with her?”
“I knew we’d get in shit, Beany; I knew we shouldn’t have done it.”
“Just shut up and leave the talking to me, right!”
Tracey stormed through the door, anger preceding her feet, Gav dragging behind, limping. “Quick, get into the shower, Gav. Now, where the hell is Dave?” she demanded.
“He’s asleep, in his room; been there since breakfast.”
“What . . . he’s in bed?”
“Yes, Mrs Bone.”
“How often does he do that?”
“All the time, especially on weekends,” Beany lied.
“Right, I’ll go wake him up. He’s got a lot of explaining to do.”
Tracey disappeared down the hallway at a canter.
Beany stared at the constables standing by the dining table.
“What are you guys doin’ here?”
“We’ll need to wait until your service manager returns before going into that.”
“Whatever! You guys are always making shit up anyway. I wouldn’t trust you, even if you did tell me.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” the tallest cop laughed. “How long’s it been, Beany? A month? It’s always such a privilege to see you, but never a surprise. How many residential homes have you lived in now and been kicked out of? Ten? Funny… trouble always seems to follow you around.”
Tracey steamed back up the hallway. “Dave’s not sleeping. He’s dead!”
The policemen quickly followed her back down the hall.
“Jesus, Beany, you’re in the fuck now.”
“You say a word, Mick, and I’ll be shoving your head so far down the bog hole you’ll be blowing shit bubbles.”
Tracey and the policemen returned after a few minutes.
“I’ll call it in,” said the shorter cop. “Control, this is PC 374672; we’ve got a 1S at our current location. Now securing the scene, over.”
“What happens now?” Tracey asked.
“No one touches anything. Everyone sits down. A crime car and a detective will be here soon. Just stay calm.”
“Crime? How did he die?”
“Don’t know, Beany, not for us to determine; we leave that for the experts.”
Silence filled the house.
“You know Dave was a druggie, don’t you?” Beany blurted out after a minute.
“What?” Tracey asked.
“Yeah,” Beany replied. “I didn’t want to get him into trouble. But you know that missing tab of Gav’s meds. Well, I saw Dave take them. He’s probably overdosed on them!”
“Why didn’t you say anything, then?”
“Because I didn’t want to get him into trouble, and besides, everyone thought it was me. Nothing I said would’ve changed your mind. You would have just thought I was trying to shift the blame. What was the point?”
“No, that’s not true,” Tracey spluttered. “But because you tell so many tales, it’s just hard to know when you’re telling the truth.”
The tall cop intervened. “Given what we’ve just discovered, I suggest we put the complaint on hold for the moment. But, with your permission, Mrs Bone, I’d still like to search the van.”
Mick shuddered and sunk back into the sofa, head down. “What complaint?”
“We’ve had a complaint from some hitchhikers about dangerous driving. The number plate they reported is the same as the house van. One of them also left their bum bag in the back of the van. You know anything about that, Beany?”
“No, why would I? Been here all day. Anyway, Mick and me are disabled.”
“Well, we’ll see about that.”
The policeman returned a few minutes later, bum bag in hand. “You sure you don’t know anything about this?”
“Didn’t think so,” he said. “Funny though, the hitchhikers’ description of the van’s driver and passenger are very similar to you two. Anyway, it can wait—there are more important things to deal with.”
The crime car arrived ten minutes later, quickly followed by two detectives, a photographer, and a crime scene analyst.
Gav, Mick, Beany, and Tracey Bone were ushered outside, instructed to sit at the table on the outdoor patio.
“You’ll be safe singing in here,” Gav said out of the blue.
More cars arrived. Soon the house was swarming with police searching the house room by room.
“Are you alright, Mick?” Tracey asked, “You are very quiet; look pale.”
Mick looked up and saw Beany snarling silently.
“I’m okay, Mrs Bone. Just shocked.”
“Oh yes, of course, you are, Mick. It’s just awful. Don’t worry, the police will find out what’s happened. I’ll arrange for you all to sleep over at another house tonight. It’ll be okay.”
The tall policeman exited the house, walked toward them.
“It appears Dave’s been stabbed. We’ll need to take Beany down to the station for questioning. Will you be kind enough to arrange for a solicitor to meet him down there, Mrs Bone?”
“Yes, of course, but why?”
“Well, a search of Beany’s room has produced a blood-covered knife hidden under his mattress.”
“No, that’s not mine. I haven’t done anything. Honestly! Tell ‘em, Mick! Tell ‘em what we did today.”
Averting Beany’s eyes, Mick remained shtoom.
A smile suddenly appeared on Gav’s face. “You’ve broken all the laws of man, Luthor. Now it looks as though you’ve broken all the laws of nature, too. I can only assume you must have hidden a device of some kind.”
“You evil freak,” Beany yelled, “you’ve fuckin’ set me up!”